Poetry from Paul Olayioye

Forgotten / twirl           

- how easy to be a roving corolla; to be the left wing 
of a butterfly, fluttering 
through a garden of memories, infest by thistles, 
infest by whatever the gun left behind. 

last week, a chapel was invaded & all present 
left a landmark of a crimson river. 

in my calligraphy, every letter is a florid stain
of a body, rippling & 
forming a col. 

in this poem, everything is all about grief. 
i heard memories are the biological 
father of pain, often tearing into your mind. 

& i don't know how to sift pain out of 
this body / to sift myself from this lack
of wilting something calories. 

but i do know that to sieve myself
will touch this little cornflower, hiding 
behind the bars of my ribs. 

so i hide myself, beside the grave 
of a mother, whose chest form a 
cladding for me during a gun battle. 

& this is not the first time i reel 
to this point. my aims were clear: 
to see if a bluebell lush will sprout 
from her grave. / to see if the requiem 
of her portrait will revolve again. 

but every night i revisit, night respond 
with a rhetorical silence. & i thought 
everything is gone. i thought the 
refulgent of my hope has wreck into
this night. i thought that the myth 

that proclaim spirits wear the moon
to see their love ones have effect, 
& my mother, wreck into a black
indigo of nothingness. 

this night, i filch out again. the tarmac roads
so attentive that they echo my footsteps 
& i feel i was turning a knob of something, feral. 

same - the moon went into extinction. & i 
break my toe on a gravestone. i knew this
mother was warning me to stop obstructing 
her sleep / to stop trucking back to 
memories. so i left everything on a flower - 
a rose flower - i drop on the top. 

i left every memory there & walk out - 
walk out of the repose; walk into a life 
still shredding people like a deciduous 
tree. one day - someday - i, too, will be 
forgotten this way. 

Springs - Heaven's Droplets 

Every dawn, I revolve into a garden of
meadows. At this point, the grass have
recoil in warm bathe from heaven. To
walk there will enthrall one in a svelte, to
always refurbish after a bedevil life. 
Once, I was a boy praying that the miry
of lack - poverty - sinking my family will
be dry. Heaven knows how much I 
scrolls this prayer before their tablecloth. 
Even before this poem was birth & 
bath, I was on a rusty way to the brook chapel 
to wash my family's curse, milk on garbs. 
My foot, clashing against the pebbles. 
That means, troubles. That means, the 
way to cleanliness is a sanguinary & 
needs something red to rewash itself. 
That means, everything wants to wash 
itself all the memories, sticking on a hairy 
skin. Here, if you don't wash yourself, you are 
a walking corpse, carrion. You are leprosy, 
nobody will wish to clash. So I take my buta*
& refill it with the springs left in the well - 
getting gabby. I know if I must blush like the 
grass, I must wet this body; flux out everything 
that makes me ooze rancid breath before God. 
So I pray, my head on the mat, that: God, give me
this heavenly springs, before I wilt & twirl.  

Buta: it means a little kettle, use by Muslim to do absolution. 


          After Chibueze Obunadike, how to eat a father's sin 

anytime my father chap a tree, i carve the former
& the aftermath. how i will come to miss the tree 
& the fruit it produce. how the leaves, forming a 
debris on the floor, will etch grief on my brain. 

to eat a father's sin is to take a kola from my father's
palm & chew: my teeth, browning like his. how i look
old from the way i munch. he do tell me how much 
his grandfather love to break a lobe daily & offer him 
one. after his dead, responsibility were shred to each
child to wash the debts his father left behind. & that

debilitates him, sweeps him into the stream of solitude. 
where i come from, we are living in claustrophobic hamlet 
& everyone fears, debts spread like flood & enclose 
every home. my father once gargle a palm gourd of 
about a future & i was the collateral. in another, 
he induce an urchin & the street knows me for
trudging. & now my father chaps a tree, a fecund tree
which i will spent days, drudging to breath life to
the scion faggots. 

Grievous monologue 


& there was rain. A voice from heaven 
telling me I must bath in its springs, if 
I want to be clean. If I want to be free 
from all grievous cobwebs, stitching 
to my reins. 


How easily to be swindle. I mean, find 
a rhetorical & watch yourself sway with 
the wind. I was woo by the wind, a breath
from grief & I inhale more than enough. 
There's always a releasing whenever I 
exhale & heaviness anytime I inhale. 


In this part of the earth, I have watch people 
live with grief as a cloth & call it a souvenir 
from God. All their effort to erode the threads
is merely a daily routine - I mean: wash, dry 
& rewear into the same agony. 

& I have heard one asks: what is the use of
shaving when another hairs will regrow? 


I walk into a basilica one time in August. 
The heavens were reseating all their tears 
into clouds, & waiting for a moment to sieve
them out. 

I met the pastor, whose teeth preach peace;
preach gnawing - meaning, come unto me & 
I will chew your problems like cola. I biography 
my life, in a way a screed will be needed. 

But he mustify his mist, shook a loom at me. 
He said my problem is a rock he can't chew. 
Said my problem is a train, driving to its location, 
of which a mere wedge can't clog. 

I swallow them back, into a belly & wobble, my mind


What can I do to eradicate this grief 
infusing into my biography like an 
inevitable comma? There's more to 
life that just procuring a solution. 

What can I do to soften this grief 
for my body bearing the burden? 
Will you teach me, hummingbird? 
How you carry a message without 
thrumming a jeremiad? I want to be 
the next eulogy in the mouth of wind, 
to inhale & not feel heaviness. 

So Lord, I am in Your sanctuary with
Hannah. My lips, rarely splitting. My
heart, sacred to Matthew 11:28. 
Soften my yoke now before I break into 

A Friday I Hold A Mist Of My Uncle 
          Friday is a of solemn prayer in my mouth. 
         Chibueze Obunadika 

Still skinny as ever,  my uncle stretch himself over
the mat that was soon to carry his back into a night 
that will have no voice or light. My uncle said it's a 
way of keeping the mat holy, that when it bedriddens
him, fire will not gush from inferno to carpet the mat;
but music from alujuna. On days when he laid himself 
on the mat as though the walls were a god & he was
kissing his feet, I question him on why he must 
murmur words into the air. He would say, to kiss the
air before the air kiss him goodbye. I swear, I saw this 
obliging homesickness as schizophrenia carving out 
of his mind, when insomnia seize sleep as hostage. 
He said it this night & his voice was thin, as if tilting 
on something that was soon to let it go. Night flood 
down with a filming lunar, perforating our curtain. &
his voice was like an organ, about to complete a hymn. 
He draws me, so close, our breaths - sultry & wintry, 
entwining, on a mat. He said: when my breath freeze 
to flux, let me dwell with my prayer mat, my holy mat. 

 A rendition to Abiku, when harmattan scarified our skins. 

there's a cry inside:  first joy;    then death 
morphing the green leaf to yellow  & twirl.  outside 

       there's breeze.       outside, there's wheeze 
       of pain & ferric chloride agony. 

dear Abiku, i see your star(dom)    
how it trails with the mockingbirds       to scorn
           our last hope.     how the owls 

carrying your voice, saying: arise, there's no antidote 
to the plague. 


i wake up this morning & your face stride
past like a firefly in my eyes. 
i know i have anew wedge to lift - pain, 
something uneasy to bypass. 

outside, the family sits again to decide 
how the placenta will not regrow in the
woman's womb, to birth Abiku again. 
& i know this method is mouth: once 
the words windfall, they will dried like 

outside, the breeze is blowing again. 
outside, the walls & skins are being 
scarified from the breath of Abiku.